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The latest Pay and Reward Survey from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has been published, recording the working environment of over 6000 chemists. The survey finds that the median salary of RSC members continues to increase in line with inflation, though salaries still lag behind the heights seen 10–15 years ago. The gender pay gap persists but is at its smallest since gender data started being recorded in 1980.
The sectors with the biggest increases are industrial and commercial companies, government, and schools and further education institutions.
The median salaries associated with different job types suggest many careers have seen relatively gentle salary fluctuations since 2015 (when adjusted for inflation). However, sales and marketing and consultancy are seeing consistent decreases in salary. The apparently significant fluctuations in median salary in other sectors (such as computer systems) are likely to be an artefact of small sample sizes.
A greater percentage of respondents indicated they are satisfied with their salary and benefits than 2017, though women continue to be less satisfied than men. Gender differences in the perception of fairness in the workplace remain almost unchanged since 2017, with men still more likely than women to report that all employees experience equal opportunities in their workplace. Women are also less likely than men to agree that their working environment is diverse and inclusive, or to agree that their job makes full use of their skills.
Different opinions also persist over the effect that career breaks have on prospects. Female respondents are over three times more likely than men to have taken a career break. Of these, nearly half of women felt that their career break had had a detrimental impact on their career, compared with only a quarter of men. The report speculates that this may be related to the type of break taken. Notably, 93% of respondents who took a break for maternity, paternity or adoption leave are women, and just under six in 10 respondents who took a break to care for dependents felt this made their career prospects worse.
All these issues may contribute to the continuing gender pay gap. As in previous years, the pay gap increases with age. The median salary reported by women across all age categories is £38,400 – 78% of the earnings of male members.